Ana Stevanovic

New Project (11)

On Integrity


I come from a line of strong, powerful women. My grandmother brought up her siblings after her own mother died very young, and she married a man from a poor family even though this was almost impossible in those days. To paint this picture better, her own father slapped her on the face once he found out she was planning to elope with my grandfather. They still got married but they were very poor. People gossiped and tried to break their marriage. When women made fun of her only wearing one headscarf, she always answered with: “I have  a lot of  headscarfs but this one is my favorite!” She managed to stay and build a family with my grandfather, providing school and building a home to all three children. She was a fighter to the last moment, even with mastectomy and a cancer spreading to most of her body. Her legacy lives to this day in one person I know even better. My mom.

My mom was first in the family to finish University. First to marry in her late thirties. And first to have a child after the age of 40. She broke a lot of paradigms in those days. In the time of war and great crisis she kept our house together. Since my father was working and was away even on weekends, she brought up my brother and me all by herself. Managing job, house, us, everything altogether. She was always too proud to admit when she was hurt or in pain. She always did what she believed was the right thing, even when nobody knew, even when the stakes were huge and consequences not that small. When I think of the word sacrifice, I see the embodiment of it in my mother. She sacrificed everything for us to have a good future. And to this day she almost never talks about everything that she had to go through to make us who we are today.

I have learned from them so much daily things, from how to make a pie to how to do laundry (only in that regard they made me a “racist” – laundry is separated not only by colour but also type).

But what they have installed in my DNA is integrity. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Doing the right thing even when no one is looking and even if sometimes it will bear consequence.

When you have these roots, it is a great responsibility to stay true to yourself and the world around you even in the times of great struggle. And sometimes, when times come where I doubt on whether I should put the sword down or leave the battle, I always think of my strong women and ask myself what would they do. Because let me tell you, being a woman in corporate makes things sometimes five times more difficult. And being a person with integrity in corporate? Ten times more difficult.

You have two options, complain about it or just ignore it all and keep grinding. Keep playing right even when no one is looking. Say what you mean and mean what you say. I am forever grateful for having my two ladies paving the way before me. And in order for the next generation to keep the same DNA, I know I have to do my part. And I am honoured to do so.

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